Functionally Literate – Quote

Good old Thucydides, writing in the fifth century BC, knew a thing or two about human nature. Here he  is talking a little about The Revolution in Corcyra:

Words had to change their ordinary meaning and to take that which was now given them. Reckless audacity came to be considered the courage of a loyal ally; prudent hesitation, specious cowardice; moderation was held to be a cloak for unmanliness; ability to see all sides of a question, inaptness to act on any. Frantic violence became the attribute of manliness; cautious plotting, a justifiable means of self-defence. The advocate of extreme measures was always trustworthy, his opponent a man to be suspected. To succeed in a plot was to have a shrewd head, to divine a plot a still shrewder.

Thucydides, The History of the Peloponnesian War, Chapter X (5th Cent. BC)


Now I know that we are not going through a revolution of the kind that the Corcyraeans experienced but we probably could be doing a little better right now. I have, as you can see, shorn this quote from the context in which it is placed in the book but I think it can be seen as  a cry for tolerance and clear thinking in extreme times. Extreme times may be closing upon us. Perhaps we can learn from this ancient knowledge. Perhaps, given a brief glance at history between then and now this is an unlikely hope. Either way I offer it up as something to chew on as we enter what may well be a fraught summer. I realise that I am beginning to sound a little like Glenn Beck. I wish I did not sound like Glenn Beck, but there you go. Good Evening.

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The Sleepcoat League

Armchair anthropologist, sometime scribe, freelance philosopher, amateur artist, part-time poet, musical maven, alliteration aficionado.

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